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Fireside at the Java Community – Press Pass

Future of Java panel

Oracle hosted a “fire-side” chat about Java this past Tuesday, giving an update on how the community is doing and taking a few questions. John Waters sent a few questions over for a piece published as “Oracle Speaks Out on Java, One Year Later…Sort Of.” Here’s the complete answers I wrote up:

Q: Are user groups the heart and soul of the Java community? Do they have this right? Is this a good strategy?

Java user groups may not be as powerful as they used to, at least in the US, but they’re still a significant part of the community. The proof? User groups are, pretty much, volunteer-led. For some there are incentives to get involved – free stuff, networking, fame, etc. – but you can look at the participation as driven mostly by the user group members passion. I don’t know figures on user groups, but anecdotal, I tend to see them still well attended. There’s fragmentation and interest in other platforms and groups as well, but Java User Groups certainly aren’t dead-wood floating up on the beach.

The Java community has many hearts and souls, of course. But, if you were to pick one community, it’d be hard to go wrong with user groups. The only issue is that you might be missing out on some of the edge cases and emerging Java developers who aren’t interested in only the Java world. There’s probably some Dalvik, Android, and other mobile developers that the overall Java community should be looking towards, and also many of the new database types (broadly, “NoSQL”) and app platforms are Java-based, but are far from “official” Java. A recent post from Stephen O’Grady outlined this “mutation” well.

Q: What do you think of that idea of Big banks and telcos being brought in to the JCP to represent “the user”?

That makes perfect sense if you want to promote the use of established “users.” Big enterprises certainly use Java and depend on many existing applications (off the shelf and custom) that are built on Java. I’d suggest that Oracle probably knows how much revenue is generated by such big customers and, thus, how important they are to the financial side of the Java world and, further, that it’s actually a good idea to give big spending users like that “a seat at the table.”

Now, the problem with that is that you want to balance that out with important innovations coming from community members with “shallow pockets.” So called “community” people like to complain about monied interested invading the “community” as if big banks and telcos aren’t part of that community [NOTE: I accidentally omitted that magical “if” in my reply to John so it’s not reflected in John’s piece, which changes the point I’m saying here a bit, obviously] . I think what they’re really worried about is not excluding these people (“big companies”), but about money talking instead of useful, innovative ideas winning out, no matter how expensively dressed those ideas are. As long as board members’ decisions make sure to (a.) keep existing Java applications stable and working, and, (b.) advance the platform with new innovations as fast as possible they’ll be doing a good job. That’s how I’d rate any member, threadbare or sartorially sophisticated.

People seem to want JavaOne to be it’s own conference…

Yeah, JavaOne used to be the event for Java developers, and a significant one for the development world in general (we’ve seen Google I/O rising an interesting, if narrow replacement, kindasorta). Folding it into Oracle OpenWorld sends the wrong signal (Oracle is more important than Java: it wasn’t SunOne) and probably makes some Java people not want to attend. The Java world is much bigger than the Oracle world and it definitely deserves it’s own conference, if only in name.

Categories: Community, Enterprise Software, Java, Press Pass, Programming.

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